One thing that seems to show up time and time again is that salespeople don’t know what they need to know about their prospects. To make matters worse sales leaders don’t know that their salespeople don’t know.

Information is the lifeblood that salespeople rely on.

We need it to understand.

We need it to plan.

We need it to adapt.

We need it to facilitate.

We need it to collaborate.

We need it to create value.

So why oh why don’t we have it?

The who, why, what, when and how of any opportunity is the foundation of effective selling.

Failing to know what you need to know results in a number of outcomes, such as:

We fail to qualify opportunities correctly and waste time and resource on unwinnable opportunities.

We fail to forecast accurately and deals are constantly moving to the right.

We fail to win deals that we need and hope to win.

We fail to achieve quota.

I’m not saying that that lack of information is the solitary reason for these failures, but it is a significant contributor.

There is far more to effective selling than execution. Preparation is what high-performance execution relies on.

And preparation means gathering the information you need, you need it to feed the sales machine.

Today’s B2B buyers have become what we have been as B2C customers for some time now. Better informed and demanding. As consumers, we have more information available to us than ever before and we are empowered to make to make better decisions. We expect relevant information to be available to guide that decision. This means we’ve got to step up our game in B2B sales.

Now for the bombshell, most, and I mean most salespeople don’t have all of the information they need to increase their chances of success.

They haven’t researched hard enough.

They haven’t understood the problem the buyer is trying to solve.

They haven’t met enough people impacted by or trying to solve, the problem.

They haven’t asked the right questions to the right people.

They haven’t identified what they need to know to be able to help their prospects.

They haven’t understood how their prospects buy what they sell.

Salespeople need to be more curious.

Ask yourself this question ‘do you think if you knew more about your prospects you’d be more effective in selling to them’? Be honest, of course you do.

So salespeople don’t know what they need to know. To perpetuate the problem their sales leaders don’t know that they don’t know because rarely do they track and review it. It’s not something that our sales tools really help with and CRM isn’t structured to capture and manage this and present it in an easily reviewable format.

Busy sales leaders (especially those with larger teams) focus on the numbers, after all that’s the simplest form of performance measurement. The challenge with this type of approach is that it can lead to more deal autopsies rather than deal celebrations. Closed- Lost and Closed No Decision is becoming a common entry in CRM opportunity pipelines.

If salespeople want to win more deals and sales leaders want to support them in achieving this they have to get ahead of the numbers and focus on the information and actions that lead to the numbers.

By understanding what and who salespeople know about each opportunity sales leaders can coach and advise their teams to greater success.

Whilst relevant information is a simple and boring subject for discussion without this ‘sales lifeblood’ we perpetuate the reasons that we fail. Having the information is only step one, what you do with it separates the sales professionals from the amateurs.

If you want to win more, then know more. Take the time to analyse the gap in what and who you know and fill it.

Check out our blog on The Foundations for effective B2B selling

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